May 4, 2010

Experimenting With Car-Free Living

It has been quiet around here lately and with good reason: Not only have I been working on a new product (more to come in the upcoming week), but I’ve also been busy biking all over town. Ever since Earth Day, my girlfriend and I have been living car-free. It has been a goal we’ve had for a while and I must say we’re doing pretty good so far.

Our goal is to keep her car parked as much as possible (I don’t own a car myself). We’re still thinking about making the switch to a true car-free life but we want to give it a trial run before we make any major decisions.

The only thing we are worried about is losing the ability to take road trips. However, we’ve realized that we can easily rent a car whenever we want to go on a trip and still spend less each year (insurance and maintenance are expensive).

It Has Been Great So Far

It has been just under two weeks since we started the experiment and we’ve already realize that it is much easier to live without a car than we anticipated. St. Petersburg happens to be very bike friendly and we have everything we need within a few miles of our apartment. We’ve already made a few trips to the grocery store without any problems. I even managed to throw a 10 pound bag of ice in my bike basket and ride home without it melting.

Check out the awesome bike rack I rigged up using a bike rack, a cheap plastic crate from Lowes, and some ratchet straps:

The whole setup costs roughly 40 bucks and has been a life-saver. It holds two canvas grocery bags without any problems and can hold around 30 pounds.

The bus system has also helped tremendously and costs far less than putting gas in the car. Over the past few weekends we’ve been hopping on the bus and taking it to the beach. Not only does it save us the hassle of parking, but we can also enjoy a few drinks at the beach bars without having to worry about driving.

We hope to keep this experiment going for as long as possible. I doubt I can make it a few years like some people have managed to do, but every little bit helps. I’m really enjoying the exercise and the idea of not having to drive (I hate it).

16 thoughts on “Experimenting With Car-Free Living

  1. Adam Pieniazek

    Keep it up. What I’ve found is that once you get used to not using the car for everything it’s actually easier and much less stressful living car-free. I’ve been 99.9% car-free for the past 2-3 years and it’s great.

    I borrowed a car twice during that time, both times for far away business meetings where public transport/showing up sweaty wasn’t really an option. If you have Zipcars in your area that might be a good way to transition from owning a car to not owning one.

    Sure, it might take longer to get to some places but the savings and exercise and stress-reduction is more than worth it. Throw in the reduction in your carbon footprint and it’s a big win all around.

  2. Walter

    With your experiment you have made a contribution to the well-being of the environment as well as health benefit for yourself. 🙂

  3. Andrew

    I would love to live car-free for the financial benefits. But I don’t live a bike friendly city/town/way-over-crowded-suburb. And like you, I live in Florida. It’s always 400 degrees with 2 million percent humidity. Then I have to ride about five miles to get anywhere, crossing over multiple, congested eight lane roads. Basically, I end up being soaked in sweat and thankful to God I evaded death multiple by the time I get anywhere. However, I have a nice bike, and I’m moving up to NC in a couple weeks. I think the area is a more bike friendly area as well. And it won’t be as hot for as long. Anywho, I like your blog.

  4. Ansam

    Wish I can do the same! Its kind of impossible with the weather here (I am from Kuwait). I would come back home and faint…. or faint on my way LOL

  5. Tom Volpe

    I have been living car free for many years now. It has its benefits (and cost savings) but can be frustrating when the weather is poor and public transport is letting you down! I’m moving to a new apartment right in the city centre soon though, so hopefully that will make life easier than it ever has been!

  6. Shelley

    I really want to bike ride more but I can’t lock my bike up and go into stores or anything around where I live because apparently bike seats are like gold. Besides taking my bike seat with me, do you have any suggestions?

  7. Veronica (lifewithnature)

    This is very courageous of you.Most of people are quite afraid to leave the security feeling that their car gets them. Living without a car can not only help you to live the life you want (by making you save money for what really matters) but it<s also a wonderful thing for the environment!

    Of course, it helps to live in the city! Keep up your good work!

  8. ios 4

    I think it’s really noble when people get back on bikes. SAVE THE PLANET!!!
    The only drawback is when you live in a city with tones of cyclists, like Oxford (UK). Here they tend to be obnoxious and careless, I hope things are different where you live!

  9. Kaye Swain

    Very interesting article. The great thing is that you aren’t just helping the environment You might also be helping your future self, by proactively working to prevent osteoporosis, slow future debilitating diseases like Parkinsons Disease symptoms, and more. The more research I do, the more I find great things about bike riding!

  10. Mark

    Great post. A lot of things that seemed impossible or which I thought would take too much time/effort when I had a car are actually not that big a deal now. I need to make one of these bike baskets.

  11. another justin

    my wife is the major bread-earner and I took a job to pay off my 2010 prius and have lately come to realize I am still just part of the consumer paradox; as in I wouldn’t need the prius if I didn’t take the job; I used to be stationed overseas and was twenty pounds lighter biking everywhere…12 miles each way to work.

    my wife drives one mile to work every day and I sometimes have to take her car just to charge the battery since it doesn’t get driven ‘enough’ which doesn’t make sense, either.

    I am not afraid of security car gives me but in a conservative semi-rural town, even in NE, it takes big cojones to ride with no discernible bike lanes….same with motorcycle…I am strongly influenced by coworkers who are vegetarian and also environmentally conscious, male and female, and trying to green my whole life and improve quality of life, grow own food, next step is car free living….I know it is possible, as most people race everywhere these days for no legitimate reason, and it makes no sense. nobody is racing you.

    I also hate to drive…Every time I have to drive anywhere, I think back to living overseas and ANOTHER reason people are more productive, i.e. using public transit and where bike riders and motorcyclists and scooter riders (scooterists?) aren’t treated like lepers.

  12. Marisel

    I must say that looks tempting and doable. But I flip flop with the idea of not having a car as I am so dependent on it and I just hate public transportation. I would rather walk and well, not every place is within walking distance. Plus I’ve been known to pick up furniture items from the curb and stuff it in my car and I’d look pretty funny doing that while on a bike…I’d topple over or something.


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